Times are good in the Flathead Valley! The water is dropping quick and the trout are looking up.
The entire Flathead system from the forks of the Flathead River to Flathead Lake is fishing pretty dang good these days. Flows are well below 10,000 CFS on the main-stem and hatches are consistent. Dry fly fishing is more consistent some days then others but we are still seeing plenty of dry fly eats. Hanging a nymph dropper below the dry is a good idea if the dry fly bite is slow. Trout are dispersing into several different types of water with the subsiding flows so look throughout the entire river for trout.
Be safe out on the big water and make sure you have life jackets in the boat. Water temperatures are cold, the currents are strong, and if you flip a boat out there you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
We have been observing several different species of bugs out on the water. PMD, caddis, and the occasional stone fly are emerging daily. Mayfly patterns are still king but the foam bug has been receiving plenty of attention in a variety of sizes from #6-16.
Under the bobber:
Soft hackle flies, Stonefly nymphs such as Pat’s rubber legs, batman stones, as well as larger mayfly nymphs are the way to go if you are putting on a dropper or fishing “under the bobber”.
We have been finding quite a few Lakers (Lake Trout) in the main-stem. Sparkle Minnows as well as other brightly colored streamers have been pretty effective in getting the Lakers to commit. Be careful in your Identification but if you are positive that you have caught a Laker please considering killing the fish in order to help out our native Bull Trout species. Sink tips ranging from 150 -350 grains should present the fly to the depth that the trout are holding. Vary your stripping techniques, till you find the cadence that the trout are interested in.
We have been mostly fishing the big water but I am sure there is still plenty of good fishing to be had in our smaller waters. Get out on some of our smaller water throughout the valley and let us know how you did!
Some dries to consider, PMD’s, mayfly parachutes (blue, gray, purple and yellow), elk hair caddis, Yellow sallies, chubby Chernobyl’s, Terk’s Tarantula, and Ross’s repeat Offender.
Under the bobber:
The bobber has been stowed away and the vast majority of nymphs used have been dangling off the back of dry flies, otherwise known as the dry- dropper technique. Specifically, pheasant tails, hares ears, micro mayflies, batman princes, soft hackles, San Juan worms, yellow sally nymphs, and the split back PMD. Trout have eaten nymph droppers both weighted and unweighted this week.
This time of year is great for getting out and exploring some of our high alpine lakes scattered throughout the area. Most of the snow is receding in the high country, warming the normally frigid waters in these secluded lakes and fishing should be shaping up nicely. Balanced leeches, damsel flies, and chironomids are generally your most effective pattern this time of year. However, don’t shy away from dry fly fishing. Hoppers, ants, beetles, and several other terrestrial patterns can be very effective in high alpine lakes. Get some dirt under those boots and explore new fisheries in the high country, you might be surprised how good the fishing can be. If you get out there, let us know how you did.
Enjoy it out there folks! Be well and if you have any comments or suggestions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.